MONTREAL – Alex Kovalev’s days with the Montreal Canadiens are over.
General manager Bob Gainey has told a Montreal radio station that the smooth-skating Russian won’t be playing for the team next season. Kovalev earned $4.5 million last season and became an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Gainey says he offered the 36-year-old a new contract last week, but the crafty winger took too long to mull over the deal.
More than 100 Habs fans demonstrated outside the Bell Centre on Sunday, begging Gainey to open his wallet for Kovalev, who was acquired in 2004 in a trade with the New York Rangers.
The Habs went on a shopping spree last week, signing free agents Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill and trading for high-priced forward Scott Gomez.
The Canadiens have also decided not to re-sign popular forward Saku Koivu.